Desserts on the fire – Malva Pudding

We left Cape Town late so couldn’t make it to the Karoo and found this beautiful spot in Ceres called Petervale farm.  A magical spot for kids!

Who says that all you can have while camping in remote beautiful places is chocolate or toasted marshmallows? Both are a winner, but sometimes there is nothing better than a yummy hot pudding.  I am by no means a chef or cook extraordinaire but the reason I do these cooking posts, and pretty much all our camping posts, is to hopefully inspire.  There is so much more that can be done than what we may have experienced that one really bad camping trip.  So with all my blogs, I hope to show you that the average family, like us, can do some amazing things.  And that camping doesn’t mean limitations to what we eat either.  That you don’t have to be a whiz, but you can do some delicious simple meals and puddings.  So this brings me to this post.

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En route to the Tankwa we found Bushman painting just off the road

One of my favorites is malva pudding. It is a true South African winner of all things yummy, gooey and tasty. Think hot sticky toffee pudding but creamier. So I got to thinking after baking bread (beer bread recipe) and apple crumble on the fire (crumble recipe), why not other puddings? It’s creature comforts like these that can just make your trip feel a little bit like home and bring you that comfort.

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So on our last trip to the Tankwa Karoo, I roped in my friend Wendy to assist with my first attempt at Malva Pudding on the fire. She is a cook extraordinaire, so always good to have someone like that as your sidekick. It was pretty chaotic with trying to braai dinner and keep hungry kids at bay. It is not a great pudding to do if you are setting up camp due to having quite a few elements to oversee.  It would work better if you have time, so a spot where you are in camp for a few hours before dinner would be ideal and also when someone else will be overseeing the dinner.

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At the top of the Ganaga Pass in the Tankwa Karoo National Park

What you will need:

A fire with lots of coals

This is because it will need 45-60mins on the fire and you need to rotate coals. Also helpful to heat some rocks in the fire that you can put them around the side of the pot furthest from the fire to heat up the sides of the pot.  Also have a few smaller stones so that the pot is slightly off the coals which helps to prevent ‘hotspots’ and burning.

You will need a few slightly higher stones to rest your pot on.  Be careful to only put a few coals underneath – you will need less than you think.

A dish that can go on the fire

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When cooking on the fire a flat bottomed cast iron pot is pretty ideal.  They are very heavy, so not always the most ideal things to take along.  We always take our cast iron bread pot as it isn’t too big and our flat bottomed aluminium pot which works as my larger dish for rice, pasta etc.  So far I have found that cast iron is definitely the best way to go on the fire.

For this attempt the cast iron bread pot was too small, so I used our aluminium flat based pot.  It gets hot a lot quicker, so you have to watch the coals and keep rotating it regularly.  It is also a lot thinner, so can tend to burn very easily.

Your favorite Malva Pudding Recipe

I use one a friend of mine suggested but I wasn’t going to type it all out, so here is one I found if you need one (recipe link)


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 tablespoon smooth apricot jam
  • 1 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb of soda (5ml)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (30ml)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (15ml)
  • 125ml milk

The Sauce

  • 250ml cream
  • 125ml butter
  • 125ml sugar
  • 125ml water

INSTRUCTIONS

Set oven to 190°C

  1. Beat castor sugar and eggs until fluffy then beat in the jam until a creamy consistency
  2. Sift dry ingredients into separate bowl.
  3. Melt butter in a small pot on a medium heat and add the vinegar and milk
  4. Now add the above mixture (butter, milk, eggs) to the sifted ingredients and mix well. Now add the eggs mixture and combine well.
  5. Pour into an ovenproof casserole dish that takes about 2 liters.
  6. Bake at 190°C for 45 mins until the top is nicely browned.
  7. Melt all the sauce ingredients together in a small pot over a medium heat and pour over the pudding before serving, preferably while it’s still hot.
  8. Serve it with ice-cream or custard or both.

Making and Mixing

Camping brings its limitations on what you can take along.  So a large mixing bowl and whisks and various measuring cups aren’t exactly top priorities. img_1322

I generally keep a 125ml measuring cup and a rubber whisk in my camping kit.  Ironically somehow my whisk had grown wings and disappeared, which was almost an epic fail as I hadn’t checked till we started prepping.  Nothing worse than lumpy mixture…eugh!  And it is not like shops are right around the corner either. For your mixing bowl, you can use your general cooking pot to mix if you don’t have space for a plastic one.  Wendy was a she-Gyver (a better version of McGuyver) though and we used her shake mixer which worked a charm. This trip was only a week away, so we had more space in the trailer which enabled me to bring along my little scale to make my life easier.

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Another staple I now take along is baking paper.  There will invariable be a spot or two that gets a bit burned, whether it be with bread, potato bake or your pudding.  And cleaning these pots can be a pain, especially if you have limited water.  So lining with baking paper make a messy job so much easier to deal with.

Side note: if you crunch the baking paper up into a ball before using it to line whatever dish, it is then so much easier to manage.  You can then fit it in to the edges etc and it doesn’t keep curling out of the dish  🙂

Ready, set and cook

Your batter is prepared, your coals are ready and your dish is lined.   Pour your batter into your pot and pop it on your small stones over some coals near the fire.  If you have some larger warm rocks, put those on the outside and then pop some coals on the lid.  You will need to monitor and change out the coals underneath and on top and rotate the pot so that alternating sides are near the fire.  Again, you need far fewer coals underneath than you think.  You can always add more heat as you go rather than starting too hot.  It will take roughly an hour…well mine did.  Don’t forget to prep the sauce so you don’t have to scramble when it comes off the fire.

A great time to put it on is just before you start braaing.  It will then be ready after supper so that when you finish eating dinner you can take it off the fire and pour on the sauce, put the lid back on and eat when ready.

Eat and Enjoy!!!!

I hope you are in a beautiful place with an amazing view and fabulous company and that this brings a little bit of home with you.

Good luck and let me know if there are any other amazing recipes that are easy and yummy that can be done on the fire.

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The kids were just SLIGHTLY stoked to have pudding while camping

This recipe and the Breakfast in the Bush were cooked on our trip to the Tankwa National Park.  A truly incredible place with limited to no cell reception, beautiful vistas and stars that feel like they are right within reach.  I can’t recommend it enough.  We bush camped for a night and felt humbled by the beauty that surrounded us.

I hope you experience God’s beauty and majesty this year while adventuring and exploring this amazing place we get to call home.

Some pics from the Tankwa xxx

 

 

 

Carpe Diem Dammit – why the hell not?!

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Last Thursday evening after the most amazing rain snow had fallen all along the Hex River Mountains.  Yes, for you wintery Northern Continental and Hemisphere people this is a common occurrence but for us Capetonians the white cold powdery stuff is a bit of a myth.  We do get some snow in South Africa, regions like the Drakensberg and Lesotho but Cape Town…not so much.  The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, just after Ceres, is the most accessible spot for us to go for a day to experience this phenomenon but windows are short.  Once the sun comes out it starts to get drippy very fast.  We have been up there twice in the past nine years.  The first time Jesse was 10 days old and he was definitely the warmest of us all.  We just went to Klondyk Cherry Farm before Matroosberg.  The second time Olivia was 3 and Jesse 5 and we went into Matroosberg.  We thought we would do the 4×4 route but it was pretty hairy and ended up just going along the 2×4 track and it was more than enough for us.  Olivia lasted all of 10 minutes and then sat in the car and cried about sore fingers and toes.  We had come woefully under prepared!

Jesse at 10 days old on the fields by Klondyk Cherry

Olivia (3) and Jesse (5) in their first snow on Matroosberg

For the last few years since then we have been promising the kids we would take them, but after each first snow fall we would put it off saying there would be better to come.  We would wait and watch and invariably there was no better snowfall and we had missed our chance!  Then we would have to say to them, “Next year.”  So this year we changed our tune.  At the first sign of snow up in Ceres, after the first wintery storm came through, we gapped it.  For the day we put work on hold, took the kids out of school and went to play in the snow.  We took a moment and built a great memory.  For what they missed they gained 100 fold in quality family time, rich laughter and life experience!

Okay yes, there are extenuating circumstances which enables us to take these opportunities.  We work for ourselves and our kids aren’t old enough to be writing exams but so often we let things go past us for fear of stepping out of our comfort zones.  Simon and I are guilty of that so often but every so often you get it right and our family snow day was one of these.

So if you get lucky and take the gap to go up to the snow, here are a few tips to prevent miserable kids:

Tammy’s top Tips for a Fun day at Matroosberg

  • Leave really early.  We left at 6:30 am and were there by 9am.  We then had a few hours before the sun came over the mountain.  The snow started to melt around mid day.
  • The day permit for Matroosberg is reasonable.  We didn’t do the 4×4 route but just went slightly higher than the first car park and went along the 2×4 route a bit and walked.  Lots of snow and not too many people.  Cost for the whole family was R170 (R50p/adult and R35p/child).
  • Take loads of shopping packets!  If your kids are wearing gumboots (lace up boots are preferable), put their feet in a shopping packet first and then tuck it into their socks.  Snow goes straight down the top of the boots and within a few minutes their toes are icy and wet = miserable child.
  • Take extra socks, shoes, and clothes.  Jesse had soaking wet trousers within 20minutes from doing snow angels
  • Must have water proof gloves!!!!
  • Sunglasses and hat that covers  your ears
  • Take food along.  You are on top of a mountain on a farm!
  • Have fun with your kids!

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Richtersveld – Tierhoek Campsite Review

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A panoramic view from above the Tierhoek campsite

In my previous blog I touched on the Richtersveld in general (click here to see).  Again, I am no aficionado, this was my second time going but it truly is a special place.  When looking into going to the Richtersveld, obviously the SANPARK’s area is well documented and you can pick up a phone and ask questions about the campsites etc.  But there are lots of areas outside the park which are run by communities and are still a part of the Richtersveld.  Tierhoek is one of these and like many community run sites in Namibia and Northern Cape, they seem to have been started out as a community initiative that over time has been neglected.  Regardless, Tierhoek is a must if you are happy to ‘rough it’ for a night or two as this is a stunning and photogenic spot with its soaring orange boulders, panoramic vista from the campsite, the leaning toilet (which the kids found hysterical) and an old sunken car or two.

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Jesse loved this car!  It seemed to capture his imagination completely

The sight is on a slight rise at the base of a kloof and from the campsite you look down over the plane.  The silence and the stars at night are incredible.  The first time there we got to watch a thunderstorm in the distance with lightening brightening the sky and stars lighting up the foreground it was an epic show of nature.

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The first time we camped at Tierhoek we watched this incredible lightening show

There are a few various places to camp up the little valley, but both times we have camped at the top where there are big boulders and two unused reservoirs.  The first time  there was not a breath of wind when we setup camp but maybe the thunderstorm in the distance should have tipped us off.  During the night it slowly started to pick up and our winner of a campsite became hell.  People had chucked their plastic bottles and cans into the empty reservoirs.  This means that at night the bottles and cans get blown around the reservoir forming the noisiest orchestra possible! We lay there for an hour hoping that the wind would soon stop…to no avail!  Pillows were put over heads and my husband huffed and puffed while tossing and turning – the kids typically slept on obliviously.  Simon finally climbed into the reservoir in the early hours of the morning and took the biggest culprits out, but it was a very long night!  This time we sent the kids in with leather gloves and a black bag as soon as we set up camp.  They found it hysterical chucking out the cans like missiles!

 

In the morning a fog bank rolled in over the plane and watching the big boulders turn orange around you as the sun rises is magic.  After packing up camp, we took a hike to the top of the koppie and the view is breathtaking.  There is no specific path and you can boulder hop your way up.  It is a very easy one to do with the kids and they loved the feeling of being on top of the world.

 

Another hit with the kids is that the campsite also has a network of boulder caves that they had a ball climbing through.  They start right behind the braai area and come out around 10m behind the campsite.  Send a dad in first just to check that there are no ‘critters’.  They were also seriously chuffed to find a huge scorpion when they did the required scorpion hunt with the UV light but otherwise there were no other encounters.

Seriously, if you are en route to the Richtersveld National Park, you won’t regret stopping here for a night en route.

 

Tammy’s Top Tips for Tierhoek 😉

  • Take cash, the community running the site do come past every so often.  I think it is around R20 pp p/night
  • Arrive being willing to share the campsite, there are no bookings so anyone can be there
  • No water or ablutions.  There is apparently a water source in the next valley over if needed.  We took shower bags and rigged them between to rocks.  The kids got filthy climbing through the caves and ontop of the rocks and into the reservoirs so it is pleasant for parents being able to wash them down before bed.
  • Leather gloves – always useful for picking up rocks, collecting rubbish or wood etc
  • Sturdy shoes for the kids.  Takkies for the hike and gumboots for when they go looking for creatures.
  • Definitely do the walk to the top of the koppie.  It is truly a magical view!
  • If camping at the reservoirs, check to make sure there aren’t any large plastic bottles or tins in.
  • As always, good wine and good company!

Desserts in the Desert

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There is nothing nicer than being in the middle of nowhere and being able to have a pudding that is more than toasted marshmallows.  Don’t get me mistaken, my kids LOVE toasted marshmallow squished between two Marie biscuits with Nutella.  It is my quick go-to treat when camping but a warm pudding can’t be beaten.  My son Jesse absolutely loves apple crumble and it is the biggest treat when away.  It’s also really easy to take along on long trips as tinned apples work perfectly well and the makings for the crumble just need butter brought.  It’s been a bit of a hit and miss trying to get the crumble to be more crumble like and not turn cakey.  So I have finally managed to get it right!  So here are my tricks.

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We love to throw peaches or apricots in with the apples for added yumminess

Firstly, when putting your fruit into the pot try to not add any of the juice or as little juice as possible.  This will minimize the amount of moisture lessening the steaming effect. With regards to what to use, cast iron works well but be careful not too much heat.  I have a standard Cadac pot which I prefer over my bread pot as the fruit doesn’t stick.  The crumble must not be too thick on top either.  And then the final winner, instead of putting a sealed lid on top, you put a few layers of tinfoil.  Pierce holes around the outside quite close to the edge.  This lets steam escape while still being able to put coals in the middle.  The first time I let the coals burn down and then ash fell through the holes.  So rather use larger coal pieces and rotate them.  We always take the heavy duty tinfoil on our trips, so if you have the lighter stuff be careful.

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Our first attempt with tinfoil.  Credit goes to my brilliant friend Nena, who suggested it after I moaned about the steaming!

 

It takes roughly 45mins to an hour and you need to rotate it so that all the sides get the fire heat too.  As with making bread on the fire, you just need an even spread of light coals underneath the pot.  Again, rather have too few and add a bit more than start too hot and burn it.  You will need to replace the top and bottom coals a few times during this time.  I generally make the apple crumble before prepping the rest of dinner and as soon as the fire is lit.  This is because it can go on the outside while the fire is burning down for the braai.  Any leftovers are great for breakfast the next day!

So here is my recipe.  It is more of a basic guideline.  I am no chef and more of a taste as I go and adjust.  So try it out, change it up and share with good company in beautiful places.

RECIPE

I generally make for roughly 4 adults and 4/5 kids

2 large tins apples

1 tin peaches or apricots

Drain all the juice and put in the pot.  There should be an even covering on the bottom of the pot.

If the apples are sugar free you may need to sprinkle some sugar on

You can add cinnamon sugar and raisins depending on your kids and friends

For the crumble:

4 tblsp soft butter

8 tblsp stone ground flour

6 tblsp sugar

I add some oats as we like how it makes it a bit chewy

Mix together with your fingers until the consistency is ‘crumbly’.  My standard test is if I squeeze some in my hand that it can stick together.

 

Put it over the top of the fruit.  You want a good covering but maximum of 1.5cm thick.  I then put a light sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top.  Cook until golden on the coals next to the fire.

 

Irish Soda bread in a pan

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Our recent trip to the Richtersveld was magical and this is a pic from our buschcamp at the fluospar mine.

When you are in the middle of nowhere your options for buying bread at a corner shop are….well….not possible.  So you are either left with stale Woolies rolls which last so long because I dread to think what is in them.  Otherwise dry provitas or rice crackers….which lose their appeal after a few days.  Wraps last pretty long and are lovely with salads and veg.  Again, fresh ingredients are limited in the middle of nowhere and there is only so much tuna mayo you can eat in a wrap before gagging.

We do have a cast iron bread pot, but by the time you have set up camp and got supper ready the last thing you feel like doing is kneading bread and leaving to rise etc.  I always have these grand ideas to make bread everyday and pre kids I did it quite a lot on our trips.  But the reality with kids and camping make it seriously unlikely.  My time is now spent finding toys left in cliff holes or rounding up kids from chasing the locals goats up the mountain or stopping them from scorpion hunting without gloves..  The glamorous life of parenting!

Yet again my friend Elaine came to my rescue!  She gave me the amazing beer bread recipe.  I was moaning about the limited option while chatting through logistics on one of our sanity cycles (she is my cycling partner, so many hours are spent together on our bikes).  She then said her family had a recipe, one of those passed down from the grandmother to mother, where you make a semi flat soda bread in the pan and it all mixes together in one bowl and no rising and kneading needed.  I begged and pleaded and promised lots of chocolate in repayment for the recipe.  Woohoo!

So I tried it on our recent trip to the Richtersveld and it was amazing…well the third attempt was.  In typical me fashion I didn’t read the recipe properly.  I was so eager I scanned over it and assumed by the name that baking soda was used….a whole whopping two teaspoons!  The first ‘loaf’ looked amazing and I thought it smelt a little strong, but without trying it I promptly made a second (we were having bacon and eggs for breakfast).  My husband sneaked past and nabbed a piece…and promptly nearly threw up.

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It tasted disgusting!!!!!  I re read the recipe and suddenly realized it was baking powder and not baking soda.  Stupid name!!!!  It was also a weird yellow color when done with the baking soda but I had ignored that as well.

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Anyway, attempt 3 and 4 worked out a dream and what a brilliant, quick and tasty bread.  I made it a few times on our recent Richtersveld holiday.  So without much ado, here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Flour

2 tsp Baking POWDER

pinch of salt

(mix dry ingredients through with a fork)

270ml warm milk

(will flop if milk isn’t warm)

METHOD TO MAKE

Put all dry ingredients in, run a fork through and add the warm milk.

Mix together using a spoon.

I used a 25cm pan and I lightly olive oiled it but you can use butter too.  We just didn’t have much for our trip.

Pour batter into pan.  It will sort of lump in the middle.  I then dusted my hands in flour and could then spread it out on the pan with my fingers.  You sort of work it outwards.  Put over a medium to low heat and cover and leave.  When the sides start to look more ‘cooked and firm’ and you can get a spatula under, then flip.  Roughly 5mins a side….very roughly as I never timed it.

Then slice horizontally and eat warm with whatever you have available or wrap in tinfoil and keep for lunch.

I made 2 ‘loaves’ and they comfortably served 4 adults and 5 kids.  You cut the loaf into 4 triangles and then in half horizontally.  You then get 8 ‘slices’ per loaf.

As I said before, it’s the small things that make trips to remote areas heaven 🙂

 

It’s the Little Things that count

Just because you’re in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean you have to suffer.  I have come to realize that when you are out in these remote amazing places it is the little things which just ‘make it’.

 

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Finding a small shop in the middle of nowhere and getting some ‘luxuries’.  Below is a picture of the shop….we nearly missed it

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So here are some of my non negotiables to making all things good while camping:

  • Good coffee – thank God for aeropress
  • Good wine – pack more red than white so don’t have to worry about chilling
  • Good food – you can do more than just braai on a fire
  • Clover full cream or low fat long life milk tastes the best (it doesn’t kill the taste of your Rooibos tea)
  • A comfy pillow – I will sacrifice clothes for my pillow
  • A sheet or kikoi to sleep on – it really makes a difference
  • My Paez shoes – they pack flat, light and are closed! Socks and takkies can get very hot but slip slops aren’t always practical and your feet get dirty
  • Facial wipes – means I can wear some make up 🙂
  • The solar shower bag – nothing better than a shower after a dusty day
  • My kindle
  • Good music
  • A good comfortable camping chair (a lot of time is spent sitting round the fire)

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Beer Bread on the Fire

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My friend, Elaine, gave me the yummiest beer bread recipe ever!  There is never any left and generally it gets eaten as soon as its sliced as it is completely irresistible.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar (this just makes it delicious)

1 beer – preferably one of the stronger ones like Black Label

Method

Throw dry ingredients together and add the beer – not complicated at all!

Oil the bread pot well or spray and cook it

Add the mixture

To Cook

Do not put the pot right on the coals in the fire, it will burn!  We did that the first few times and it is not easy cleaning a burnt pot while bushcamping with limited water.  You will need far less coals than you expect as those cast iron bread pots get extremely hot.  Rather start with too few and add.  We put a few off to the side of the fire but close enought to still feel warmth.  Put coals underneath and a few on top.  These will need to be rotated a few times for fresh ones.  A pot hook is quite useful for taking the lid off to check how it is cooking but brush the coals off first.  I have tried a few times to think I could just lift it up and then put it back on and invariable the ash falls onto the bread!  Don’t forget to rotate the beer bread around as well so the sides get even warmth from the fire.  It takes roughly 45mins-1hr to cook.

Enjoy!

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